At least 15 horses - some pregnant - shot dead in Kentucky

Police seeking suspect in 'cruel act' as reward increases to $15,000

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 19 December 2019 22:59
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15 horses killed in Kentucky

The massacre of at least 15 free-roaming horses, some pregnant or very young, has outraged a Kentucky community as local authorities continue to increase a reward for information leading to the suspected killer.

Among the bodies discovered earlier this week were horses aged 1 year old or younger, shot and left for dead near a strip mine site close to the Floyd-Pike County line, according to the Floyd County Sheriff's Office.

At least two of the horses were pregnant.

Animal rescue groups believe the horses were being hunted.

Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt told local news outlet WYMT that the killings are "very inhumane and it's a very cruel act of somebody who just apparently had nothing else to do ... It looked like a battlefield for just horses."

The sheriff said at least one of them was grazing after it was discovered with grass in its mouth.

Authorities are continuing to search the area, which has been difficult to access because of recent rain, and is reachable only with ATVs and other small crafts.

The Floyd County Chronicle reported that there could be at least 21 horses among the dead.

Local rescue groups counted 35 horses in the herd last year but believe it has grown since then.

An initial reward of $500, put up by the sheriff himself, was increased to $15,000 after donations had poured in from across the country as news of the gruesome discovery spread.

Dumas Animal Rescue said that "the response across the country to this horrific situation has restored our faith in humanity and given Dumas volunteers the strength to keep fighting to find the perpetrators."

In a statement, Floyd County Sheriff's Office said "it has been heartbreaking seeing these beautiful horses killed but it had equally been heartwarming to see all the concerns and see all the support in assisting in the investigation and to give the living horses a good home."

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, which contributed $5,000 to the reward, said: "It takes a truly heinous person to mercilessly shoot more than a dozen horses and leave them for dead. We hope this reward will encourage anyone with information about this terrible crime to come forward."

According to reports, the horses were among two main herds; one was apparently brought to the wooded area by the horses' owners, while the other group was likely born there.

Authorities believe a suspect, if found, will at a minimum face animal cruelty charges.

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